IESF’s World Esports Championship 2024 to take place in Saudi Arabia

05 September 2023


World Esports Championship 2024
Image credit: International Esports Federation (IESF)

The World Esports Championship, a nation-based esports tournament, will take place in Saudi Arabia in 2024, the International Esports Federation (IESF) has announced. 

The host city has not yet been revealed. IESF did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

ESI London 2024

The host location announcement for next year’s event was first made live during the closing ceremony of World Esports Championship 2023, which took place in Isai, Romania between August 26th-September 3rd.

Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, a Saudi royal family member and Chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation, became Statutory Vice President of the International Esports Federation in June. Prince Faisal is also Vice President of the Global Esports Federation.

The World Esports Championship is a global esports tournament, running since 2009, where national teams (as decided by IESF’s member national esports federations) compete to be crowned national champions.

The move to Saudi Arabia comes amid rapid government-led investment in esports by the Saudi ruling family. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund owns ESL FACEIT Group, Vindex as well as stakes in multiple leading game developers. The country announced a major national esports strategy last year, and the recent Saudi Esports Federation-run Gamers8 festival had a $45m prize pool.

Despite growing ties, the move to hold the World Esports Championship in Saudi Arabia is likely to prove controversial given concerns over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, particularly around LGBTQ+ and women’s rights. Esports talent members and players have boycotted and expressed concerns about Saudi-based events in the past due to the country’s discriminatory laws. Some commentators have described Saudi Arabia’s actions in esports as ‘esportswashing’.

2023’s edition of WEC included tournaments in CS:GO (with Open and Women’s categories), Dota 2, eFootball, Tekken 7, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and PUBG Mobile.

The event saw very low viewership in flagship titles CS:GO (13,600 peak viewers for Open, 15,300 for Women’s) and Dota 2 (21,800 peak viewers), though managed a massive 700,00 peak in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

In June, local Romanian media reported multiple allegations of shady activity surrounding the local Isai sports body and the IESF, including the payment of the World Esports Championship 2023 licence fee into a newly-established North Macedonian subsidiary rather than IESF headquarters. An IESF spokesperson has previously told The Esports Advocate that it strongly denies any wrongdoing.

Jake Nordland
Jake has worked at Esports Insider as a journalist and editor since early 2021. Now ESI's Media Manager, he continues to act as lead editor of print magazine The Esports Journal, and contributes his words to the website from time to time.